30 Nov 2012

The Wisdom of Bees on SOUNDART RADIO

This week - my first ever radio broadcast, and at the studios of the excellent Soundart Radio based in Dartington, Devon. More about Soundart Radio here.

It begins with a brief talk about the plight of honey bees and hives in relation to Colony Collapse Disorder, and recent scientific discoveries about neonicotinoid weedkillers. This is followed by a poem I wrote and recorded in 2006/2007.

Originally recorded for a CD of the same name by Arts Council England, it is an epic poem or story-in-rhyme,set in the near future, where a storyteller tells us how the people of the planet came together to save the bees... listen here:

6 Nov 2012

For Shame, and Against the Coastguard Cuts

When they drag those lifeless bodies from the water,
record statistics, choose to print on front or inside page;
it will be somebody’s mother, wife, or daughter,
or a father, husband, son of youthful age.

They have not drowned yet.
Not tumbled overboard by backwash of a wave,
have not surfed in hidden slipstreams just offshore.
Have not yet breathed the element becoming briny grave
nor beached where sudden tidal gullies pour.
They might be ourselves, or now live and breathe amongst us
they might be our neighbours, colleagues or our kin,
while the costs of coastguards services are measured
against the debts of bankers, fools and kings.

These are the facts.
The slashing of a budget for some saving
of something more important, it’s implied;
as future tragedies just leave them waving,
unsaved, too late, and so betrayed, to die.

This is the truth.
For seas are unpredictable and ruthless
and undercurrents complicate the risks,
and government statistics cruel and truthless
when their dry facts are compounded by sea mists,
and with look-out station windows shuttered, boarded,
several helicopters grounded, saving costs.
And how much money will lives have afforded?
And is the price worth all who will be lost?

No it is not.
Not one of us in folly or misfortune,
whilst in employment or in leisure and by fate
deserves to flounder while the coins of impunes
are recovered in some ledger of the State.

Our forebears lived and died so that the Coastguard
could save lives without favour, without preference or blame.
The arrogance of those who cut the Coastguard!
A curse is theirs. They choose it with this murder, with this shame.

1 Nov 2012


I have been in the most beautiful stalactite and stalagmite-hung caves at Kent's cavern in Torbay, reading a story about a visiting Pegaus. Voice projects down the mouth of the caves and towards its dark belly. A fifty thousand year old fossilised skull of a she-bear, is displayed nearby. The room is hushed.

 It was like being in a kind of cartoon fairyland, accompanied by the local literati and musicians, for the launch of the Wordquest Devon new writing anthology. I was invited to read from the Storytrail writings, which I helped to edit too.

Here's a link to that great project - here 

And well done Sarah Cobley, dynamic and competent project co-ordinator/ manager extraordinaire.

Afterwards, ah, the musicians played in the deep heart of labyrinth caverns. Ancestors stirred. I wandered in breathless awe, listening to the echoes of violin and psychedelic synth echoing to the timeless beat of falling drops onto the cavern floor...It was an epiphany. I want to go back.

But what spoils my troglodyte memories is now this photograph, above, as clad in this essentially many-pullovered form, reading-glasses and scowl, and victim of the cave lighting system, I am cast into what appears to be my grandmother. Or the prehistoric she-bear fossil. Sheesh. Poets can be so vain sometimes.